Lesser Lights

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The major stars are always more visible than those around them. It’s demonstrably true not only in the galaxies but in the more modest constellations of humanity. Our attentions are naturally drawn toward those who shine most impressively and dramatically—for good or ill; those more modestly gifted or less showy mostly find their own lights muddled or even eclipsed by the intensity nearby, and as a result we seldom spot and take note of them.

Even those of us who are not only accustomed to, but also aware of, being humbled and diminished by comparison to others’ flashier character can easily forget how this applies to others. Just because I might feel neglected doesn’t necessarily mean I notice others being equally shortchanged; indeed, it’s more likely that if I’m feeling under-appreciated I get too preoccupied with my longing to be Special and resentful navel-gazing to think that I’m probably in the majority rather than otherwise.

Still, there’s hope. Just as a supernova will someday burn to nothingness, human stars tend mostly to flash into the general notice, burn however brightly for however long, and be dimmed by eventual inattention or death. They, too, will eventually be outshone and/or replaced by other stars whose time has come.

And if I, or any other, should in the meantime feel unreasonably hidden from sight, we are still free to seek our own bit of gleam. For some folk, that seeking comes in ambitions for accomplishment and fame. For the rest of us, the surest way to kindle the blazing fire that gives off sufficient heat and light to be noted by anyone else is to turn our focus outward. Devoting energy, attention and love to causes and works outside of our petty selves, and especially to other persons, is the spark that, when kindled in their spirits, creates the steadiest, most lasting kind of light. Even the smallest and weakest among us shines brightly in this tiny act of selfless will.digital illustration

Over the Top

photoFew people have as many reasons to be happy as I have. Being aware of that fact is, in a maybe slightly tautological way, a great reason for happiness in its own right. And so: I am happy. Very.

One of the finest reasons to be happy–and forgive me if this sounds a little tautological too–is that I am not depressed. Having spent as many of my younger years clinically depressed and struggling with anxiety as I did before getting treatment and medication that allowed me to be at ease, healthy, hopeful and, well, happy, I may have a deeper appreciation of simple, ordinary happiness than many. Every day that I’m not depressed, sad or anxious is a gift. I think I can be pardoned for thinking myself one of the happiest creatures on earth, even if I don’t go bounding around giggling to prove it.

Another chief source of my joy is the tremendous community of friends and loved ones surrounding me at all times. This has served not only as an essential part of my recovery and continued success in keeping my mental health and spirits on a positive trajectory since my emergence from the chrysalis of that darker self of years past. If that isn’t reason for being well and truly happy, I don’t know what is. I suppose it’s a further sign of general contentment and happiness that when there are times of stress, struggle or sorrow that are fleeting, they serve to reinforce happiness rather than otherwise, since they serve to remind me of the contrast between those times of trial and their wonderful opposites.

The biggest mystery in all of this is perhaps the astounding truth that I keep getting rewarded further for embracing my sources of happiness. Good friends come into my life and share their kindness and wisdom and humor and expansive spirits with me and I respond as any such fortunate person would, by turning to them like a flower to the sun. And then they in their turn give me more of their kindness and so forth. I am overwhelmed with thanks.

Among bloggers, one of the signs of mutual support and friendship that arises in this setting is the sharing of blog awards, and of late I seem to have built up quite the collection once again. So I am taking this moment to express my deep gratitude! Given the range of kindnesses being showered upon me in recent times, I am taking the liberty of blending the recognitions into one post and revising all of the requirements–with an invitation to those I nominate in response that they might follow this new rubric as well.

First of all, I present to you the generous friends who have shared their blog awards with me, and the awards they have passed along on the way.

Afsheen http://afsheenanjum.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/awards/ Dragon’s Loyalty Award + Versatile Blogger Award + Blog of the Year 2013 AwardDragon's Loyalty AwardVersatile Blogger AwardBlog of the Year Award 1 star jpegRosemary http://randomrose.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/the-sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/ The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers AwardSisterhood of the World Bloggers AwardCarolyn http://carolynmalone.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/best-moment-award/ Best Moment AwardBest Moment AwardAnne http://talesalongtheway.com/2013/12/01/sunshine-award-and-inner-peace-award/ Inner Peace Award + Sunshine Award + Versatile Blogger AwardInner Peace AwardSunshine AwardVersatile Blogger AwardDimple https://shivaaydelights.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/liebster-awards-ii/ Liebster AwardLiebster AwardSamina http://saminaiqbal27.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/most-influential-blogger-award/Most Influential Blogger AwardMost Influential Blogger AwardDiane http://bardessdmdenton.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/inspiration-awarded/ Very Inspiring Blogger AwardVery Inspiring Blog AwardKind friends all, I am once again moved and daunted by your generosity. But I shall do my best to be worthy, or at least appropriately thankful and generous in my own turn. For my  official dance of acceptance, I shall share a selection of revelations, factoids and other wildly inspirational (or mildly amusing) items to divert you for a while. First, however, I must tell you there are a number of darling persons of my blogging acquaintance and friendship who deserve your visits, readership, following and devotion. And any number of awards. So whichever of the awards you below-named friends have not already received (multiple times, some of you!), I will be ever so glad and honored if you will accept my nomination to share with me. For I am glad and honored to be in your company, just as I’ve been saying.

Ginger, purveyor of outrageously great humor and creative writing at gingerfightback; Marie, lovely proprietress of her own Little Corner of Rhode Island (where wildlife and fabulous young household members run wonderfully rampant); David Reid, insightful and gloriously gifted artist; Antoinette, Spree-cooking in a magical kitchen and celebrating family love; Mark, overseeing a variety of creative marvels through graphic design, music, travel and more, at The Vibes; Mandy the magnificent at The Complete Book, where cats and cookery and the sweet beauties of South Africa abound; Bishop, the master of clever home gardening, beer making, whiskey tasting and regional explorations; Claire, who Promenades through England and France with exquisite gardening and travel and foodly inspirations; Nitzus, gloriously photographing travels and family with equal aplomb; Diane Denton, Bardess of a multitude of grand artworks combining poetry and paintings and all sorts of visual and verbal art; John, busily cooking up family history and delicious dishes with which to ingest them in the Bartolini kitchen; Lauren, who writes love poems so well that instead of making me feel like a spy on her personal life they seem admirably universal; Tyler, the superb writer-photographer-poet-biologist at the helm of The Ancient Eavesdropper; Jeanne Kasten, queen of her beautiful art studio; Mick the Meticulous and his great and celebratory photographs of people, places and things in ways that remind us to see with new eyes; Laura Macky, outstanding and artistic photographer-blogger; Michael, Taggart and his Amazing Flower Photos; and Anne-Christine, the great lady presiding over the joys at Leya: please step up and accept my accolades, my admiration, and my best wishes for your continued success and happy productivity.

Friends, if your name doesn’t appear on this little list, rest assured that I am pleased to share my blogging life with each and every one of you whose blogs I visit and follow as well. Your work makes my days so much the richer, and I consider myself privileged to be in the midst of this entire blogging company. Those of you who read here now and have not yet ‘met’ the bloggers whom I am naming above, please take a cue from my list and pay a visit to these terrific people’s places the first chance you get!

Now, a selection of bits about moi, in case you haven’t already been sickened by the TMI that is my blog. Happy perusing.

1   One of the very few sport-related things I ever did with reasonable success was drop-kicking in football. Surprisingly, I did not pursue this as a career.

2   I love the scent and taste of cardamom.

3   I’d like to own less Stuff. Trying to be smarter about that.

4   I’ve only been under general anesthetic twice. As far as I can remember. Not counting a few speeches I’ve sat through.

5   One of my early boy-crushes was on Morgan MacLaren, with whom I shared a double desk in first or second grade, and I swooned and mooned over him for a long time, but it ended abruptly when he contracted the current plague of the Hong Kong flu and threw up all over our desk.

6   I really like sitting on a swing, and I like standing on it even better. But swings are made too Safe nowadays for properly aggressive elevation. Thanks, lawyers.

7   I’m a huge fan of Mid-century Modern design. Not very surprising, I suppose, as I grew up surrounded by the stuff when it was new. But I admire its clean lines and grace anyway.

8   My pet goldfish, the first and only pet I ever had, had a middle name. Turns out to be the first name of the first-and-only man I ever married, too.

9   Eating raw eggs doesn’t worry me (but I wouldn’t choose to eat them plain).

10   I prefer thigh-high stockings to pantyhose.

11   I’m generally an optimist. Is that why I prefer thigh-high stockings to pantyhose? Oh, come on, I was simply referring to the relative probability of their staying properly in place during the regular course of a day without help from garters.

12   One of the stupider things I’ve done was responding to having come back to my car after visiting the library one night, finding a teenager in a hoodie inside it going through my glove compartment, and instead of going off to call the police as I should have done, opened the door and yanked the kid out by his jacket, yelling at him, and shoved him away while he, stunned, regrouped and ran off to catch up with the confederates who had failed to warn him I was returning to the car. I am happy he was even stupider and more afraid than I was so I’m here to tell the tale.

13   I like cedar better than pine. Mostly.

14   I learned how to drive a manual transmission vehicle, but I’m terrible at it. You should all be thrilled that automatic transmissions exist. The world is a safer place.

15   When the space shuttle Challenger exploded, I was standing in line at a paint store where they had a television on behind the counter, so despite the improbability of it all, I saw the disaster on live TV anyway.

16   I’m very intimidated by singing in front of anybody. I know there’s no earthly reason to be afraid of it, but it frightens me all the same.

17   I was fond of vampires and monsters and that sort of stuff long, long before they entered their current phase of popularity, but I still don’t think of myself as dark and morbid (even if others might)–I only like that stuff for its amusing entertainment value. Maybe that in itself is morbid!

18   If an Agatha Christie villain had ever tried to poison me with cyanide I’d probably have been an easy mark, because I find the smell and flavor of almonds enticing.

19   Birds love the seeds I put in two of the feeders out back of our house or on the patio but they won’t touch the remaining feeder, with the same seeds in it.

20   I would’ve made a good architect, if I hadn’t been such an awful mathematician and, oh yeah, also had no engineering knowledge and a pretty poor work ethic. Great sense of practical yet beautiful space and all of the smaller designs within it, though.

21   I am in awe of people who are great at any service profession (teaching, medicine, humanitarian work, and so forth).

22   My parents never disowned me. Go figure.

23   A man of Norwegian descent taught me my first Chinese words and taught me how to use chopsticks.

24   I had the chicken pox as a kid.

25   If all of this isn’t more than enough information about me, I don’t know whether to be astounded or just feel sorry for you, but I hope you’ve been a little amused along the way. And considering that you’ve stuck around this long, I thank you for your patience and good manners and hope you’ll extend your attentions enough to visit some of the many great blogs of my friends’ that I commended to you above. Cheers!   photoWith this, I am going to cease accepting blog awards henceforth. Obviously, I am not opposed to them in any way! But I have already been so generously inundated with awards that I have no need of more, and the companionship, advice and friendship I receive has always been the richest of the rewards. I thank you one and all and wish for everyone as much happiness as I am blessed to enjoy.

Curtseying & Polishing My Tiara Madly

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Now, there's really no need for you to go putting up any monuments in my honor or installing any statues of me . . .

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. . . and while I love a good concert and the after-parties are outstanding, it's not necessary to write compositions in my honor and get the marching band ready for a parade . . .

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. . . and while I do love a good monetary recognition, it's hard to explain any sums sizable enough to be really impressive when our fine friends from the Internal Revenue Service start paying attention to the numbers . . .

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. . . so I think I'll just say that my heart is warmed immensely by the kind light you've shone on me, and that in return I hope that I can be a little brighter and a little more generous with my light to the rest of you, and that you will all pass it along as well . . .

Once again I have been receiving kind and generous notices of recognition over the last few weeks from my gracious blogging friends, and I’m overdue to say appropriate thanks in response. So here I am at last, with another lovely gift-basket filled with Genuine Blogger, Versatile Blogger, Sunshine, and Kreativ Blogger Awards and feeling overwhelmed as always at the munificence of the online community. These latest are conferred upon me, regardless of my deserts, by my fellow poets, artists, foodies, gardeners, essayists, music lovers, travelers and others with whom I’ve so fortuitously crossed paths out here in the ether and am enjoying the marvels of mutual entertainment and discovery.

It is with a humble and happy heart that I thank Meg, Susie, Mark, Mars, Kofegeek and Tamara. Some of these have been friendly correspondents of mine for a lovely while now, and others are quite new to me, and I highly recommend that you have a look at all of their blogs! Meg is a veteran traveler for her relatively few years’ opportunity, and always posts marvelous pictures and original thoughts and ideas about places visited and things done there. Susie writes with great good taste, artful illustration and photography, and shares stories and samples of fabulous food and outside-of-kitchen adventures, too. Mark, an outstanding graphic designer in the UK, sometime DJ and constant educated music listener, gardener and traveler, always has a wise and witty twist to his posts. Mars has lived a rather cosmopolitan life but keeps a grounded and sensitive point of view, traveling, writing moving and insightful observations about life’s vicissitudes, and seeking beauty and light in the world. Kofegeek brings ingenious humor and insightful discourse to matters of science and math, cats and coffee, and much more. Tamara is a marvelous gardener from Ljubljana who is working to create intergenerational conversation about that earthy art.

Meanwhile, I am required by the rubrics of these awards to do a little personal sharing with you, my readers, and to introduce to you other worthy bloggers, and so I am going to combine my efforts and ask that you have a good visit to some truly worthy sites elsewhere as well. Share the love!

First, 10 blogs and bloggers worthy of your attention:

Cynthia @ http://lesplaisirssimplesdelavie.wordpress.com/ (photos, thoughtfully captioned with brief yet expansive and often lyrical text)

Natasha @ http://comeduemaiali.wordpress.com/ (seriously, how can you not enjoy eating ‘like two pigs’? I know I do, oink oink) Important update announcement: I am clearly not as smart as even one little piggy, because I completely missed that Natasha had been one of my award benefactors in the first place. But I’ll pretend I Meant to Do That just so that I could pass on the other awards back in her direction! Because, and I am not making this up, she really deserves them anyway!

Becky @ http://beckyfrehse.wordpress.com/ (a longtime friend, Becky is a tremendously versatile mixed media expert, visual artist, collaborator, teacher and all-around cool person)

Lorelei @ http://incidentallearner.wordpress.com/ (rediscovering her incredible painting gifts, she’s a watercolorist and storyteller extraordinaire)

Bente @ http://bentehaarstad.wordpress.com/ (no, I’m not prejudiced just because she’s from my ancestors’ homeland, Norway–she’s a really fine photographer!)

Sue @ http://suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com/ (another distinctive and fine photographer, capturing other parts of the world, caught my eye)

Pat @ http://rantingchef.com/ (making all sorts of stellar and luscious foods sound and look fairly simple to make, and worth the effort even if not so easy)

Maggie @ http://thelittledesignstall.wordpress.com/ (a Pinterest-style blog full of gleefully over-the-top and often spectacularly inventive and gorgeous design images from all over)

Maenamor @ http://antiquityandadventures.wordpress.com/ (guiding us around scenic bits of England and Wales and sharing special local events with their fascinating stories)

Robi @ http://kabyahe.wordpress.com/author/robijiz/ (introducing cultural and natural beauties of the Philippines in outstanding journalistic and artistic photography)

Meanwhile, back to talking about myself, because I’m so incredibly exciting!

I think almost anything could be improved by the addition of browned butter (beurre noisette), possibly including a plain spoon about to be stuck in my mouth;

&   I have rather excellent printing (lettering) skills because my cursive handwriting, though perhaps interesting to look at, is almost indecipherable even to me;

&   If I don’t sleep at least nine hours a night I am not very likeable company;

&   Classical music is often my go-to choice, but there are others that have particular allure for me at different times or under varying circumstances, i.e., Blues music during physical labor, vintage ZZ Top, Oingo Boingo and Van Halen on road trips, reggae on a beachy sunny day, jazz and swing for hanging around people-watching in a cafe, and so forth;

&   The smell of coffee is heavenly to me, but I don’t drink it often and then only as flavoring for lots of cream and sugar;

&   Perhaps because of my temperate Northwest upbringing, I think of green as a perfect neutral color, just as much as the traditional black-white-grey-brown palette;

&   I’m not particularly girly (in the ruffles and bling and pink sort of pop-culture way) but I am fond of being female and even sometimes live up to sex stereotypes, if accidentally;

&   Not much of a crier (maybe I tend to try to be stoic when genuinely sad), except at the most silly sappy stuff, but I am an inveterate hugger and hand-holder;

&   I’m so old that I went to a school where there were no lockers, only a cloakroom; that the houses and cars in the neighborhood were all generally left unlocked; and that the older kids piled loosely in the backseat of the car while the baby sat in Mom’s lap up front;

&   I’m so young that I think Bucket Lists are for people thousands of years older than me because I have all the time in the world and naively believe that I will get around to anything that matters enough, eventually.

On that note, I really must finish this up for today and get it posted, because despite my limitless future I find that blogging is a time-consuming joy and can easily eclipse numerous other activities that may well turn out to be worth the doing if I don’t get too obsessed and distracted leaping around the meadows of the Internet in the grand company of my many admirable blogging playmates and mentors and companions.

“Thank You” is an Excellent Exit Line. Or Opener. Oh, Both, of Course!

So I shall begin with a resounding Thank You. To another three gracious and inspiring bloggers who have nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank You, amazing Eve and marvelous ‘Nessa and sweet Peaches! Eve’s poetry and prose move me so deeply I sometimes think she reads my mind–but with better compositional and editing skills than I have. ‘Nessa inspires me with her old-soul attitudes and resilience in the face of committed creative work in such a public forum as a blog at what seems to this aging lady like a tender age indeed, putting out fine and fiery writing as well. Peach Farm Studio is a lovely land whose mistress creates fabulous letterpress art and, as inspiration and adjunct to that, plays with beautiful and wonderful text, music, imagery and any other ingredients that can be combined to make the Studio’s output a joy.VBAAnother heartfelt Thank You to the incredible Cecilia. She who presented me with my first VBA has now passed the Reader Appreciation Award my way as well. There is probably no irony at all in the fact that one of the rubrics for proper reception of this award is that one should pass it along to one’s own six most faithful commenting bloggers, but not to anyone who’s already received the award–and you guessed it, she’s been easily among the six most frequent and thoughtful and uplifting commenters here from Day One. One of my first frequent-flyers, period. And a constant source of gracious good-humored help and outsized compassion and good sense to push me ever upward and onward.Reader Appreciation AwardNow, in case I needed an extra boost, ‘Nessa popped back over to my place to tell me she’d also nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award, and that deserves yet another moment of humbling contemplation of my embarrassment of riches and the great aid lent me by all of you, to which I add Thank You again, no less joyfully and with equal amazement at my good fortune.Kreativ Blogger AwardAll of these are among my cloud of muses and angels, my support and drive and comfort in the form of family, friends, and teachers–all of whom are represented among you, my gracious and ever-encouraging, in the deepest sense of that word, readers. So I Thank You all particularly and sincerely for all of the strength, wisdom and joy you have shared with me since I began this blogging adventure. It seems far more than mere months ago that I began to meet you all–you have become so much a part of my world that I move through my days buoyed by the mere knowledge that you are ‘out there’ thinking up innumerable ways to brighten and improve my life, even when you don’t quite know it. That, you might well note, is what family and friends and mentors do, and oh, you do it very well indeed.

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Thank You for providing a Safe Harbor where I can be myself both at work and at play . . .

At the end of the year I can look back and be thankful for so many fine things, and one of them is clearly the great experience that my dive into the untested waters of the blogiverse has turned out to be. Thank you for making it not only painless but a great pleasure, a steeply upward learning curve, and generally smooth sailing to new and delightful places. I cannot begin to tell you how much I look forward to seeing those places with all of you.

For the moment, I shall wrap up here by recognizing those others who have so sustained me with their commentary. There’s the wonderful ChgoJohn, who also has already received this award himself because he’s always out offering wit and succor and freshly-sauced pasta to everybody around these parts; the sweet cfbookchick, so tender-hearted, poetic, quick with praise and generous with clever commentary as well as being a fellow ooh-sparkly-objects human magpie; the gentle, celestially-inclined Barb of Just a Smidgen, who consistently provides far more than a smidgen of encouragement and sunbeams and shared love of music hereabouts; the warm and open-handed Marie in her Little Corner of Rhode Island, who nurtures all while slyly tickling our ribs and funny-bones, stealthily adding bits of great practical advice all the while; and the self-effacing fairy godmother of Ireland, Our Lady of Just Add Attitude, who eschews awards (luckily for me this one officially doesn’t require her responding to it at all unless she so chooses) despite producing award-worthy posts of her travels and thoughtful ruminations on all sorts of good food and pretty things and then turns around complimenting everyone else as though she’s never heard of such talent. All of you, whether you know it or not, have been an amazing and unexpected joy in your sharing yourselves with me here.

It could but most certainly should not go without saying that these are all joined in my field of heroes by such fine characters as Ted and Nia, the two bardic Dennises, Raymund and Caroline, Desi and Lindy Lee, Anyes and Bella, Neil and Geni and oh so many other worthy and outstanding blogger colleagues and friends. And of course there is that particular fella who patiently shares me with my magical laptop kingdom and who works to keep the roof over our heads as well as still making me glad every time he spontaneously yells out “I LIKE YOU!” and gives me a big goofy wink.

Farewell, good 2011. Come on in, great and glorious 2012! And to all of you out there reading this, may you have a year full of peace, love, joy and ridiculously fun creative living.

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Thank You for helping me discover yet another Happy Place . . .

Best of the Very Worst, or How I Rose Above Personal Mediocrity to become a Self-Made Above-Average Character

”]digital drawingThe ever-inspiring Nia, photojournalist of all things sweet in Istanbul and wherever her travels have taken her, has tagged me with the honorable task of reviewing my short (thus far only, I hope) history as a blogger and passing along the challenge for such introspection and resurrection to some fellow internet trapeze artists as well. As one who has always prided herself, if that’s not too extravagant and approach to it, on being comfortable with her place in the middle of the pack, so to speak, in the universe, it is a tingly and cheering surprise when anyone tells me I’m otherwise. I mean, I knowI’m special, wonderful, and adorable and all of that since people I love and respect tell me so in my real life, but I am also fully aware that the rest of the planet is absolutely brimming with equally special-wonderful-adorable creatures in that sense. I’m also well aware that nothing I have done, made, said or been has shaken the foundations of reality or made me rich or famous, nor is likely to do so–and I really am okay with that!

So to be singled out as worthy of mention in this my new endeavor is flattering, frightening and flummoxing all at the same time. But mostly it feels really nice! It is a fine affirmation that my ego, smiling broadly at me in the mirror, is not so far off-kilter that my average-and-ordinariness cannot be seen by others, too, as maybe something a little shinier and more compelling than they actually are–or perhaps even edging upward over the years and efforts somewhere a tiny bit closer to excellence. Complacency, no, never, I hope. But isn’t it nice to get that sore shoulder once in a while that comes from cheerily patting oneself on the back?

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Buckets of bouquets to us all!

I would like to offer the same supportive and enthusiastic back-pats to the following fellow toilers in the fields of blogdom:

Ted Griffith, who braves the blogosphere with wonderful photographic art despite frequent disclaimers of intimidation and inexperience apparently quite similar to my own;

Madeline of ah-lum-dahp-dah, daring adventurer and journalist (with great humor and compassion) of her experiences around the world at an age when I still thought it was incredibly gutsy to say Hi to a stranger at a boring reception;

Fellow unreasonable optimist Jared at Lexidelphia, poet and commentator on such useful things as mustache characteristics and the importance of being an impertinent little upstart when questions ought to be asked;

Milady Hannah-Elizabeth of The Last Classic, writing a remarkably insightful and thoughtful rumination on life with all of its ups and downs;

Beautiful Desi of The Valentine 4, whose ability to calm the stormy seas around her with wisdom and humor and passion are a great example to us weaker-willed souls;

Aaron Leaman, who like the rest of us hard-working arty types, starts with Nothing and makes Something–in his case, artful and thought-provoking photos, vids and texts.

Jack Campbell, Jr, of This Average Life, a guy that just happened to post today on the selfsame theme I had chosen for the day, with a unique twist. I think that qualifies as good taste in ordinariness!–or something like it . . .

My Fellow Bloggers: Should you choose to accept this mission, you will only need to revisit and link to 7 of your all but forgotten posts, linking to them, and then pass this mission/challenge on to 7 other bloggers . . . here are my own responses:

#1 Your Most Beautiful Post (in your opinion):   Another Kind of Safety (or, better yet I hope, something yet to come)

#2 Your Most Popular Post (per stat views):   The Supercooled Liquid that is Far More than Smoke and Mirrors 

#3 Your Most Controversial Post (per reality):   As American as Whaaaaaa . . . ???

#4 Your Most Helpful, or “How To” Post:   Happiness may be Ephemeral, but It’s Sure Worth the Effort

#5 Your Most Surprisingly Popular  Post:   I Hereby Crown Myself Mistress of the Mess-ups and Guru of Good Intentions

#6 Your Post That Didn’t Get the Attention It Merited:   Be Still and Listen, Thou Big Dope

#7 Your Magnum Opus (post you are most proud of):  I’m hoping like crazy that if there’s an individual post that’s “best” it is yet to come. What I’m really proud of is finally getting up the nerve and the gumption to actually join the blogosphere and persevere at it. And all of the rest of you that commit to this humbling and exhilarating and inspiriting task should be equally pleased to be in this weird and wonderful company!

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This little piggy cried, "Me! Me! Me!" all the way home . . .

Please pardon my wallowing in self-congratulation for a moment. Whee! Whee! Whee!

Friends Well Met in Cyberspace

We have constant reminders of the dangers lurking around the dark corners of the webiverse, and indeed we would do well to heed all such warnings. But I have seen that the obverse of that coin is equally impressive and far more enlightening and cheering: cyberspace is full of fantastic people and inspirations, and I don’t have to go far to find them. The kindness of strangers is quickly transformed into wonderful streams of affinity and even deep friendships when we have the ability to find so much common ground despite the physical, cultural or temporal distances between us.

Case in point: ceciliag, author of the exquisitely artful and personal blog The Kitchens Garden. I saw, without surprise, that today she had received a much-deserved blogging award for her marvelous work, and was delighted, because in the short time I’ve followed her blog I have come to see her as an inspiration, a mentor and even a friend. That’s the beauty of this concentrated contact we can develop with wonderful people whose shared insights and arts move us to do more than merely hang about the fringes basking in their gifts, and actually get to work on our own, howsoever we can! What I saw with surprise, and gratitude, was that C had generously passed along the award to other bloggers, and included me. I will of course try to narrow the field of my admired cohorts enough to pay the gift forward, because others besides ceciliag have strengthened, entertained and inspired me as well. She must know that I would gladly have included her in my own list had she not been the one ‘tagging’ me!

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The purpose of the award is clearly to reinforce the ties between us in this remarkably friendly and creative world of blogging, and also to introduce us to more new connexions that we haven’t yet known to enjoy. Along with the fine mandate to share with you some links to other blogs I know you’ll find delightful, I am tasked with telling you 7 things you don’t know about me. Finding 15 bloggers whose work I admire and think deserves recognition is easy (though keeping it to only 15 mightn’t be)–but since I’m so boldly non-secretive a person, I may have to fish around a little to think of any things everybody doesn’t already know about me. So first, a blogroll of other worthy persons whose blogging efforts I hope you’ll support and find as delightful, provocative, educational, witty, touching, and/or flat-out gorgeous as I do.

Ad Alta Voce

Cherry Tea Cakes

Claudia Finseth

Closet Cooking

Draw Stanley

In Search of My Moveable Feasts

Just a Smidgen

Little Brown Pen

My Little Norway

My Open Source Life

Plate Fodder

Roost: A Simple Life

Sustainable Garden

The Last Classic

Tinkerbelle

And now, as if my dear readers haven’t already heard enough blather about me, here are seven things you might not have known.

1  I consider ginger root the Universal Donor. I can think of hardly anything that can’t benefit from the addition of ginger in one of its many forms.

2   I have something a little like the earworms people get when a pop song (or, among people I know, a movement from some classical piece) gets stuck in their head for a day or week–but mine is a permanent repetitive tune. My personal theme song, I guess. At least it plays in variations sometimes, thank goodness, or I’d go batty. Or have I already?

3   Once, long ago, I got to make a commissioned artwork to be presented as a gift to the Bishop of El Salvador.

4   The shelves on my desk have a miniature found-science collection of bones, bugs, bird nests, rusted hardware and seed pods.

5   I have a horror of telephones. Yes, it has a good latin phobia name too. But what do we phobics do to get over it–call each other???

6   My ability to raise one (either) eyebrow sardonically once garnered me the nickname “GP” for reminding my teacher of Gregory Peck’s expressions. I don’t think she meant it as a compliment, ‘specially if she had any idea that my sense of irony was mostly aimed at what I thought was the absurdity of her teaching style. Mea culpa.

7  At various points in my life I thought I’d study to be a pastor (that was clearly before I started developing into such a heathen); a marine biologist (all that scientific knowledge started to get in my way); an architect (oh, yeah–a dyslexic who can barely do grade-school math). Turns out I wasn’t really cut out for any sort of well-defined path.

Which brings me right here! And I can definitely say I couldn’t be more pleased with having landed among you. It challenges more different aspects of my personality and self-image than pursuing any of the aforementioned would have done in my case. And it lets me keep up the hunt for my vocation, if I have one, with a dandy support community that often drives me down previously unknown and unexpected paths of fun-filled mystery. So thanks, and here’s to all of you, not just those on today’s list!

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Bouquets to all!